Savvy managed service providers keep one eye on where existing application workloads are deployed today and the other on where new ones are likely to be deployed tomorrow. A new report from Gartner estimates that as of 2016 approximately 17 percent of the total market revenue for infrastructure, middleware, application, and business process services has shifted to cloud. While that may not seem like a lot, the Gartner report notes that the shift to the cloud is now happening at a faster rate than the analysts previously anticipated. Gartner estimates that cloud revenue will grow from $219.6 billion in 2016 to $260.2 billion in 2017, and by 2022 public cloud services will account for 28 percent of the IT market.
As impressive as that growth is, however, those numbers also mean that for the next five years or more 70 to 80 percent of IT spending will still involve on-premises IT. The biggest issue MSPs will need track is where the management plane for application workloads running in the cloud and on premises winds up. Just because an application is running on premises, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the tools used to manage that application need to reside on premises as well.
The need for centralized management
In fact, as more applications move into the cloud, the greater the awareness of a need to centralize the management of IT becomes. Today, most cloud platforms and applications are managed in isolation from one another. It’s arguably only a matter of time before organizations will want to centralize the management of those cloud services and the management of existing applications and systems deployed on premises.
As more management functions become centralized, the opportunity for MSPs to deliver more services profitably increases. MSPs will be in a much better position to centralize the management of IT than the average internal IT organization. Not only do MSPs have more experience building the required consoles and dashboards, but they also have experience with REST application programming interfaces (APIs) that are needed to programmatically integrate distributed applications and systems running inside and outside of the cloud.
Benefits of encouraging cloud migration
The desire to centralize the management of IT should increase once there is a critical mass of applications in the cloud. MSPs should encourage customers to adopt cloud services because it’s only when they start using those services that the need to centralize the management of IT becomes obvious. Once that need becomes acute, it’s not much longer before an organization starts to consider the merits of contracting an MSP to manage that highly distributed IT environment on their behalf.
The probability that all application workloads will shift to the cloud is near zero. But with the rise of emerging technologies such as Docker containers that make it simpler to lift and shift legacy applications into the cloud, the rate at which workloads will be deployed in the cloud will increase. The challenge facing MSPs now is make sure they have the skills required to manage application workloads wherever they happen to be running at any given time.